Location: Portland, OR
Why He's Amazing: Because he's a vegetable fanatic dedicated to Oregon ingredients, a modern sensibility and the traditions of Alain Ducasse and Joël Robuchon.
Culinary School: The Art Institute of California (San Diego)
Background: WD-50 (New York City), L'Auberge Del Mar (Del Mar, CA), internships at Noma (Copenhagen) and Mugaritz (San Sebastián, Spain)
Quintessential Dish: Asparagus with sorrel and pine needles
Who Inspired Him to be a Chef: "My father, because he's an awesome cook. He's a businessman and went to lots of different restaurants. He would sometimes come home and try to replicate dishes."
Foraging: Woodward gathers many of the leaves, petals and rare plants that grace his precisely arranged plates from Castagna's sidewalk garden.
Passion Outside Cooking: Mountain biking
His True Love: "I'm obsessed with this career. I love cooking, cleaning vegetables, searing meat, making quenelles of ice cream, searing fish just right. I get shivers just thinking about it. Cutting chives, watching them pop off the blade is instant gratification—a reason to feel good. I'm in the kitchen 16 hours a day. I don't take off my apron and become a different person. I give my entire life to this."
Insider Tip: Be sure to request the off-the-menu dessert flight. Woodward worked under modernist dessert master Alex Stupak at New York City's WD-50, and his sweets are as sublime as they are beautiful.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.